Naasha Pithawalla is a Psychology student from Mumbai. When she was 13, Naasha asked her father if there was a way we could fly with the birds. He told her he knew how to fly with them. Once she was 18, he took her to the local site and started teaching her.
Ever since taking up the sport, Naasha's perception of the world has changed. "Everything falls into a natural rhythm and you get to be a part of a natural system and not just observing it", she says.
AP Quick 5-
1. The first place you paraglided - Virar, Mumbai
2. Your go-to place for paragliding in India-
3. Your dream destination in the world - Bir without a doubt. I am at Bir right now. Also the Alps, Europe
4. Your favourite Instagram account related to the sport - @paraglidingbawas, @paragliding.adventure
5. A book/movie on the sport that you love Beginner to Cross Country, Understanding the Sky, Touching Cloud Base.
AP: What got you first interested in the sport?
Naasha: When I was 13, I asked my dad if there was a way we could fly with the birds and he told me he knew how to fly with them. He introduced me to paragliding and asked me to wait till I grew up a little. Once I was 18, he took me to the local site and started teaching me.
AP: How did you start out? What was your first experience like?
Naasha: My first experience was ground handling the glider learning how it reacts. Soon I found out that the right inputs at the right time makes it extremely easy to control the glider. My first flight was scary. My dad's friend helped me with the take-off while he guided my flight from landing on the radio. First flight is a simple right-left instruction-based, super easy, scary yes but only cause it was new. You also feel joy, it’s quite a miracle that flying like that is even possible.
AP: What changed in your life after you started paragliding?
Naasha: Looking at the world from up there changes a lot. Your perception of the world, the way you can connect with the sky, earth, mountains, clouds. Everything falls into a natural rhythm and you get to be a part of a natural system and not just observing it. It taught me patience like nothing else could. You can go to the take-off and look at the weather and realise it’s not safe to fly yet and wait for hours watching it, waiting for it to tell you take-off. It becomes a priority. I can change my schedule to fly but not my flying time. It teaches time management. If you reach the take-off late, well, you might not get a flight. Take it from me once you fall in love with paragliding that hurts, so I figured out how to always be at take-off on time.
AP: Who do you usually go paragliding with? Naasha: I usually fly with my father and one of our family friends who my dad taught paragliding alongside teaching me.
AP: What are some of you favourite moments while playing the sport?
Naasha: Connection with everything around me takes the top spot. Feeling free The stupid pilot mistakes that are discussed with the group. It’s done in a extremely productive way, we learn from it, and joke about it. Most paragliding pilots are extremely helpful at all times.
AP: Any good stories to share?
Naasha: At the start my mother was scared and didn't let me fly till I was 18. My dad and I convinced her to allow my father to teach me how to fly since he knew how to fly since 23 years. When I started learning it took me a long time to take-off. It was scary and to be honest, it should be, since it’s not a natural thing for humans.
Once I finally took off, it was beautiful and I just had to do it again and again. I slowly started studying weather, aerodynamics and terrain maps, and preparing myself to fly not just at local sites but for kilometres at a time. I am currently training for cross-country which is travelling across the mountains for kilometres. My current target is a 100km stretch from Billing to Dharamshala and back to Billing. It’s been quite a ride from my first take off to being so confident and free to attempt everything that flying has to offer.
AP: Till when in the future do you see yourself paragliding?
Naasha: Till I die, hopefully.
AP: What would be some advice you’d give someone who’s just starting out?
Naasha: The sport takes a while to pick up but once you can fly on your own it’s the most beautiful experience that our world has gifted to us.
Follow Naasha's paragliding adventures on Instagram at @naasha_pithawalla
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